The New York Rangers are in Nashville on Saturday night. That means rookie forward Jimmy Vesey will be playing his first game in the city since he decided not to sign with the team that drafted him so he could hit the free agent market this past summer and do what he felt was best for his development as a player.
He is not likely to receive a warm welcome.
His story was a pretty big one over the past few months. It was a journey that made him one of the most coveted players to be available in free agency this summer due to his age and potential for 28 NHL teams, while also making him a massive target for criticism when it came to the other two (Nashville and Buffalo).
Originally selected in the third-round of the 2012 NHL draft by the Predators, Vesey informed the team late last season that he would not be signing with them after completing his collegiate career at Harvard so he could become a free agent. The Predators insisted Vesey had assured them he would sign with the team, a claim that Vesey’s camp denied one day later.
Eventually the Predators traded Vesey’s rights to the Buffalo Sabres in June for a third-round draft pick. After a lengthy free agency courtship with several teams, he eventually decided on the Rangers. That decision also resulted in a harsh reception when the Rangers visited Buffalo earlier this season.
Vesey said on Saturday, via Adam Vingan of the Tennessean, that he expects this game to be the worst of it.
“I kind of have been knowing it was coming,” Vesey said. “It’s going to be the worst of it and once this game is done with, maybe it’ll settle down.”
Vesey has been a pretty big addition to the Rangers lineup this season and has helped contribute to their improved forward depth that has made them one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference so far.
He already has 10 goals in his first 31 games, putting him on a 26-goal pace for the season. Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (the top-two picks in the 2016 NHL draft) are the only two rookies with more goals than him this season.
The other important factor for the Rangers was the fact they needed to find a way to add more young talent into their organization after trading so many prospects and first-round draft picks over the past few years in an effort to keep making runs at the Stanley Cup. They have not picked in the first round since 2012 and have only two second-round picks during that time. Being able to add a young player like Vesey without giving up anything in return is a massive addition.
Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?
The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.
While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.
Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.
With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:
Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played
Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP
Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.
Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?
The Carolina Hurricanes fell short of a win on Monday, but their thoughts likely revolve around the health of goalie Eddie Lack instead.
Lack was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision during Andreas Athanasiou‘s game-winning goal in overtime. Officials reviewed that the goal counted, giving the Red Wings a 4-3 overtime victory against Carolina.
While it’s been a tough overall season for Hurricanes goalie, Lack has been an integral part of Carolina’s push for a postseason spot. PHT will keep an eye out for updates regarding his condition after this scary collision.
The Red Wings stayed on the ice as Lack was taken off, a nice gesture after an unfortunate accident.
Just when you think it’s time to count the Tampa Bay Lightning out, they rally back.
It’s been happening overall in 2016-17, and that pattern carried over into Monday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Lightning decided to put Andrei Vasilevskiy back in the net in the second period after he gave up three goals on eight shots in the opening frame … and at first, that looked like a mistake that would do them in. Chicago went up 4-1 and things looked dire.
But, again, the Bolts followed the script when it comes to flipping the script, with Jonathan Drouin triggering a resounding rally in the second.
Droun’s first goal came 11:45 into the second period, followed about a minute later by an Anton Stralman tally. Less than four minutes later, Drouin hit the 20-goal mark with the 4-4 marker on the power play.
First, check out Drouin’s first goal, which began the rally:
Next, witness the 4-4 goal, also by Drouin:
And … just like that, the Lightning tied things up. Wow.
Apparently Drouin created more offense than just his two goals, too:
Impressive. Remember when he seemed like he was out the door last season? Now that feels like another reminder not to give up on this group, no matter how ugly things look at times.
Video will be added when available.
By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.
You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.
Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.
Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.
Here’s the Jurco goal:
Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by Ondrej Palat:
Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.